Pork Cheese Balls

cooking, food, recipe, Uncategorized

Continuing the theme of having appetizers as dinner, I made some simple Pork Cheese Balls.  This was super easy to make, it yields a lot of so it’s pretty handy to know when you have last minute gatherings and such which the next few months of holidays may bring…

What you need 

1 lb ground pork

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp oregeno

2 tbsp picante style hot sauce

3 cups all purpose baking mix

dash of salt and pepper

4 cups cheddar cheese

1/2 cup of milk

Getting Started

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare bakind sheet with parchment paper

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Put all ingredients into a large bowl until they are well mixed

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Form mixture into golf ball sized ballsplace on baking sheet

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Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

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Annnd there you have it, pretty simple, it goes good with a dip or by themselves, the picante sauce flavoring gives it a good flavor without making it too spicy. Perfect for holiday parties or potlucks where you have to bring something but you don’t want to stress over anything

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Bacon Wrapped Dressing

cooking, food, recipe

Thanksgiving and assorted holdays are coming up. In such festivities, there is always a big focus on food. Mostly traditional, which is fine, but if you’re looking for something a little different or perhaps an appetizer that will really make them wonder what the main event is going to hold, you may want to consider this option. It’s traditional, except wrapped in bacon, and let’s face it… that’s always better

What you need

Package of bacon

box of instant stuffing

toothpicks

Easy Peasy Man

Preheat your over to 375, and put foil on a baking sheet

Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray

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Make the box of stuffing as per directions on the box

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Scoop stuffing into golf ball sized portions, wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick

Place on sheet and bake for about 25 minutes

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Take out when bacon is cooked.

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There you have it. It tastes as good as it looks, time in the oven makes the stuffing a little more crispy, they work great as appetizers maybe with a cranberry jelly dip or you can serve it as a main dish like I did with some home cooked green beans

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Stir Fry Lettuce Wraps

cooking, food, recipe, Uncategorized

Always looking for a change in dinner, lettuce wraps seemed like a good choice. And it was. Simple to make, but with an element that is more than just the “same ol same ol”, lettuce wraps can be made in a variety of ways (there’s whole eateries dedicated to them) so we went with some stir fry  sauce, ground turkey and fresh veggies to give it a healthier feel and a little Asian flavoring.

What You’ll Need

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb ground turkey

2 cloves minced garlic

1 red pepper diced

1/2 sweet onion diced

1/4 cup stir fry sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 cup of cooked rice

butter lettuce leaves

LETS DO THIS

First I cooked down my “hard veggies”, onions, garlic , and carrots in the pan first to give them time to cook down

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When they’ve had a head start, I add the red peppers to cook down next

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When the veggies have been cooked down and reach a nice translucent color, its time to add the turkey and continue to cook until the turkey has reached it’s proper coloring

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Once everything is good to go it’s time to add the rice and the soy sauce and stir fry sauce… mix it all up well

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Once it’s all mixed it’s ready to serve. To serve, use your butter lettuce leaves, scoop a few spoonfuls of the mixture to the center of the leaves in a taco like style.

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Chicken Avocado Burgers

cooking, food, recipe, Uncategorized

So we were looking for a different take on dinner, maybe a sandwich, maybe not, something hearty but also not super bad for us either, what we decided on was a chicken avocado burger, it was definitely a twist on a burger, but also not too bad that I felt I took a few years off my life.

Here’s what you need:

1 lb ground chicken

1 ripe avocado ( I likes em big so if you find small ones use two)

1 minced clove of garlic

1 pepper (use your judgement on this… how hot you like it? poblano or jalepeno work great)

1/3 cup Planko crumbs

salt and pepper to taste

 

It’s easy but you’ll look like a genius.

1)  mix all the ingredients in a bowl

2) form into patties

3) cook them (you can go grill outside or pan fry them) For this picture, I pan fried them, but I think they would be even better if you grilled them.

We also sauteed some onions (not listed in the ingredients above) as toppings and used an onion and poppyseed bun. Then we  added the cheese, field greens, pickles and tomatoes. That really brought it together.

chicken-avocado-burgers

Leave Home- Greek’s 205

food, places, road food, Uncategorized

 

Every couple of weeks, Brea and I meet up with my mother in law to head over to Greek’s 205. The place is a restaurant/bar that has a reputation for both. Brea and I originally fell in love with the outdoor patio and 1.25 Lone Star Tall Boys. Yup… while everyone else was paying 5 to 8 bucks on expensive beers, we were getting trashed for less than 20 bucks. I remember the first time she came back with the beers… she brought them to the table as I was smoking a cigar. “How much?” I asked. “”2.50,” she said and then added “for BOTH” We knew then we were hooked.

It didn’t take long to hear about the food though. When crawfish was in season, they had crawfish boils outside and sold it by the pound. It was really tasty, then we started hearing about prime rib night. Brea’s mom visits every few weeks, being from a rural town she comes to ours to get a lot of stuff done, as an outdoor lover and a drinker, we introduced her to 205’s outdoor ambiance, and she loved it, but that’s also where our relationship with the food came in, as she would mention grabbing a bite.

The food here is top notch, I mean that as a cook who loves to make different foods and use different disciplines of making it. The winner for me is usually the steak. It’s a nice cut of ribeye served with a pre main course dinner salad and a side of grilled vegetables.

ribeye

 

I mean it’s easily the best steak I’ve had in this town. I’m not alone in that thought. I’ve had local chefs and owners of restaurants say the same thing. It’s very well seasoned, with the perfect char on it for taste. Cutting off a piece and letting it burst in your mouth with a flavor that is juicy and savory gives the term “mouth watering” a new meaning. The glands in your mouth began working overtime as it floods with saliva to meet the taste that is now occupying your senses. Suffice to say, it’s a hard dish to get away from, and saying it’s a good steak is an understatement. It’s one of the best. I’ve ever had… ever…. and I keep ordering it every time.

Now they have other items on their “grill night” that I’d love to try. Grill nights happen with an outdoor kitchen on the patio making the party enviornment even more fun. They have a grilled salmon, and a grilled shrimp dish I’d love to try but damn if I don’t keep ordering the steak.

Brea however ventures off book sometimes, and she ordered the patty melt last night. (that is the first item pictured). I took a picture because she has ordered it before, but they recently changed the way it was built. Previously it was a burger type sandwich, and not much difference was made other than the fact that yeah it was tasty. This new version though, has a lot of thought put into it.

The bread was obviously the most visual difference, now the two patties are side by side, but the cibatta type bread was nicely toasted on their griddle or grill, had some great flavors in it along with the meat they used for the patty and the cheese. The bread and butter pickles were a good flavor pairing, and the whole sandiwich seemed to work better than it ever had.

I usually don’t talk about food in such a “foodie” sense. I actually hate that word. I’m a food guy, a cook and I love to make my stuff better. Part of that process is eating other people’s foods and places and knowing what you like, getting to know the flavors.

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Cabbage Rolls

cooking, food, recipe

So recently I was looking for something that was healthy to make for me and the missus but didn’t sacrifice flavor. I decided to try cabbage rolls, which I never had before. The result was a pretty savory and different dish. It’s not complicated, and I think it shows a little more sophistication than a casserole or skillet meal.

What You’ll Need…

6 large cabbage leaves

1/2 pound ground pork

1  tbsp of minced onion

1 egg

handful of breadcrumbs

salt and pepper to taste (or other spices optional)

Tomato Sauce

Let’s Get Rolling 

Boil Cabbage leaves in a large pot with salt water for about 5 minutes, set the leaves aside

Mix ground pork, onions, salt, pepper, egg, and bread in a bowl

Carefully spread a cabbage leaf out

put beef mixture on cabbage leaf and roll up

Secure cabbage leaves with a tooth pick

cabbage rolls

Place rolls in a boiling pot

Add in tomato sauce plus a can of water

Simmer for 45 minutes

There you have it. The result is pretty tasty, it goes good with a side dish, and definitely sets a good standard when you want to serve “something different”

cabbage rolls2

Lo-Carb Mexican Casserole

cooking, food, recipe, Uncategorized

One thing about being brought up in a Mexican family, no one ever really brought up healthy eating much.

It’s not surprising that people in my background are at a higher risk for obesity, heart problems, diabetes, etc… And the most likely culprit is because when you are raised on food that tastes good, healthy food kind of just sucks. So when going about trying to make a Mexican inspired casserole that is low in carbs, you are faced with a pretty big task.

Here’s a dish that once served, everyone said… “This tastes really bad for you.” Mission accomplished.

WHAT YOU GONNA NEED

1 lb ground turkey

1 package of low sodium taco seasoning (FU I’m lazy today)

1/2 chopped onion

1 jar of salsa (I use medium I want it to taste good not burn your butthole out)

shredded cheese

chopped black olives

light sour cream

ORALE

Cook turkey and onions in a skillet until onions are translucent and turkey is browned. (I drained all the juice out) Stir in the seasoning and set aside. While your doing that, preheat the oven to 375.

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Put that mixture into a 8×8 baking dish, spread it evenly like bad gossip. Sprinkle with chives and top it with the salsa evenly. Then add the cheese over it.

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Bake it for 15 minutes. The cheese should be all melty and delicious looking. Garnish it with a lil’ more chives, black olives and sour cream.

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So basically, this is pretty simple, the carb count is low and seriously tastes good. I don’t know if Mexicans are generally known for any casseroles, but this is a good start on the trail to tastyville.

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Leave Home- Friday’s- Shiner TX

places, road food, Texas, Uncategorized

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to be a judge at the local volunteer fire department cook-off in Shiner TX. I jumped at the chance because 1) I love to eat BBQ and it’s free food for me, 2) It’s in Shiner so you get free beer while you’re judging (no kidding) and 3) I have begun to practice smoking meat South Texas style at my own home to learn a new discipline of cooking so it was good to eat other people’s best to benchmark my own meats at home.

I got to judge two categories, Ribs and Brisket. It was great. 60 plus entries of local pit masters, amateur cooks, and local BBQ teams.

Afterwards I walked the grounds and got to meet up with my buddy Thurm and his cooking partner as they let me tour their set up and explain some of their cooking practices and tips (also got to sample a variety of their ribs that didn’t make their final entry)

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After the judging we went to a local bar for more Shiner beer, and then decided to go to a local diner on the way home. My wife, who is from Shiner, walked me through the diner called Friday’s…

 

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The First thing I noticed is that they sell Kool Aid as a drink option. No shit. It’s right there in the pic next to the big rooster. I was going to order it for fun, but Brea told me to order the cherry lime aid instead. I’m glad I did… They make them to order there, and no kidding when I say it was the best cherry lime aid I can remember drinking.

The other thing about this place, is they make fresh bakery items there.

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So hey, I’m a fat guy, I order a couple of sweets, one is a sugar cookie and the other was this green pinwheel thing I’ve never tried called a “rosette” it reminded me of a dried little mini funnel cake with green icing.

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We move on to the food. We are in a diner that reminds me of an old diner my grandmother used to own, so I order the biggest hamburger they got, called the “Big Daddy” and some onion rings.

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The onion rings come first. It comes to my knowledge then that the onion rings are not “sides” they only come in one size… huge. And they are perfect. Crispy, not soggy, closer to a blossoming onion (which they also sell there) and served with either ranch or jalapeno ranch. I got jalapeno because I’m not a wuss.

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Then the Big Daddy comes. So… I’ve eaten a few burgers in my life. This one certainly owns the name. I mean, I’m going to let it have it. It’s not the “biggest” I’ve ever had, but for a diner, it is easily a monster that they should be proud of. The patties are obviously made there, not pre made cut and frozen jobs. The onions are grilled to perfection. It’s big. I mean, I had to squish it down to take a bite, so it was easily thicker than even some triple patties I’ve had. The buns are toasted on a flat griddle, and it comes slathered in mustard and lettuce and tomato to make a symphony of flavor. No kidding. it’s good. It’s filling, and I was most certainly almost ill from eating so much food all day, but I regret nothing.

As we were leaving, Brea makes me take home a caramel bun. Yeah you heard that right, So I took it home to heat up for breakfast the next day. No regrets. If you’re in Shiner Texas and want some classic heart stopping food. There are worse ways to die.

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Pork Chop Casserole

cooking, food, recipe

I like comfort food.

Nothing says comfort food quite like a casserole, especially if it has pork chops in it.

Also the 6 year old in me likes the fact the word “ass” is in casserole.

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What you need:

Pork chops (I use South Texas ribeye cut here in Texas)

¾ cup  flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tbs of olive oil

½ tsp. pepper

1 can  condensed cream of mushroom soup

2 cups  sour cream

2/3 cup chicken broth

½ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp.crushed dried rosemary

French-fried onions

YOU GONNA SIT ON YOUR CASSEROLE ALL DAY OR YOU GONNA COOK?

Preheat oven at 350. (hey that part’s easy!)

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Combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add one pork chop at a time, and coat.

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In a large skillet; cook pork chops in oil for 4-5 minutes on each side or until meat is no longer pink.

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Place in a single layer in an un-greased  baking dish.

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In a bowl, combine the soup, ½ cup sour cream, broth, ginger and rosemary

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pour over chops. Sprinkle with half of the onions.

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Cover and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until meat is tender. Stir remaining sour cream into sauce. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until onions are browned. Serve.

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Boom.. We usually serve it with fresh pan fried green beans and spoon some of that creamy sauce over the veggies. It’s good. Good as a kid a week before Christmas.

LEAVE HOME- Pint Jockeys Beer Tasting and Why I Don’t Like IPAs

places, road food, Uncategorized

On Thursday, we went to a beer tasting event held by Pint Jockeys.

I’m not too familiar with the group and it’s origins, I do know that every third Thursday of the month though, you can go to one of three Texas cities and attend a two hour event to get free samples of beer.

The beer is usually seasonal, which is kind of nice, there’s 6 types to try which is nice, because while most seasonal and craft beers run around 10 bucks a 6 pack, you kind of want to know what you’re getting into before you commit. It’s kind of like speed dating only even a bad beer will get ya drunk…. maybe.

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So here is a listing of the 6 beers, you get 6 rickets so that’s convenient and a nice little glass you get to keep most of the time, this session however they had plastic cups, I think hat’s because they had a sponsor attending this time.

Since it also fell on St. Patricks Day, they also had a local restaurant serving Shepard’s Pie. Which, I was not expecting, usually they serve some sort of finger food to compliment what you are drinking, but in this case, the food was really hearty and good.

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The two winners of the night were the Karbach Here Comes The Sun and the Woodchuck Day Chaser Dry Cider.Both of these came out flavorful and I used my two extra tickets getting repeats of them since I didn’t try the IPAs. That’s because I don’t drink IPAs… I try them from time to time just to make sure I’m not crazy, but then I go write back to my dislike of them.

I guess it started when I noticed the trend years back. I was willing to put up with an extra bitter and hoppy beer because sometimes in life, when you try a beer it’s like taking a chance and talking to that cute goth girl in a laundromat… You may end up having an unexpected pleasant evening, or you may wake up naked wrapped in a shower curtain. (don’t ask that’s another story for another blog)

I went on a brewery hop tour in Austin a while back (should have blogged that one) and was sorely disappointed at how many  breweries did not have a simply drinkable beer.One brewery in the 6 we went to that day had a decent porter, one had a great stout, none had a decent pils or lager… but every one of them had, you guessed it… an IPA.

And since it was Austin, (and let’s face it they may be the fastest growing city in Texas, but that just means they have more pretentious people) we laughed at these people trying the latest Mosaic IPA trying to really chat about how complex and great it is, all the while suppressing awful twisted up faces from basically drinking flavored bleach.

And I think that’s the problem for me.These beers are like the emperor’s clothes of beer. People are afraid to disagree with beer snobs for fear they won’t be told they don’t know anything about beer, when in reality taste is taste and maybe some people actually want a drinkable lager with a smooth finish and not have their throat locked up. I mean, isn’t beer supposed to be refreshing? IPAs have become so popular, such a trend, that even though there may be a unicorn that is balanced, the majority of them are bitter and leave a bad taste in your mouth like an old ex who set your car on fire.

And let’s face it, I kind of like my car…